Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thematic Guide to Popular Nonfiction by Lynda G. Adamson

Nonfiction readers' advisory is getting more attention. Add to the recent list of titles Thematic Guide to Popular Nonfiction by Lynda G. Adamson. It will sit well with Real Story by Sarah Statz Cords and Nonfiction Readers' Advisory edited by Robert Burgin.

What Thematic Guide to Popular Nonfiction does differently from most readers' advisory titles is tell more about fewer books. This 352-page book discusses only 155 popular nonfiction titles. In the preface Adamson tells how she chose them. She identifies the booklists that she used to find recurring titles. From approximately 800 titles, she culled standard biography and history, which often have neutral voices, and kept books with distinctive author viewpoints. The resulting list is heavy on memoirs and autobiography. Other books include the stories of the authors' quests for insight on their topics.

Because of the depth of information on the featured titles, the guide is an excellent starting point for students or book discussion groups looking for a book. Any book in this guide will have many reviews or other critical materials available.

Thematic Guide to Popular Nonfiction is not intended as a selection guide. Adamson does not include publisher information on the 155 books. Librarians should, however, note any titles that they are missing and consider them for acquisition.

I like some of the themes that Adamson identifies: change, desire, expatriate experiences, immigrants, roaming, and sports dreams. In an appendix are many more themes, among them aesthetic values, belonging, betrayal, oppression, and scientific study. If a reader has read a book identified in this book, then he/she has numerous suggested next titles.

Libraries serious about readers' advisory will want this book.

Adamson, Lynda. Thematic Guide to Popular Nonfiction. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006. ISBN 0313328552

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